Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

When the Narcissist’s Image Building is Embraced by the Whole Family

Num 16:27 So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones.

Narcissists (and actually their kind – revilers, abusers, sociopaths) are always working to build image. Much like Nebuchadnezzar who commanded an image of himself be built and everyone ordered to bow down to it, so the RASN is always, always, always at work propping up an image of himself/herself which others are to bow to. Someone I read recently said that the RASN’s family life is not about family, it is about image. How the RASN and his family are perceived. What the observed persona, reputation, and name are presented as. This is what makes the RASN’s family activities and relationships tick.

Now, sometimes – maybe even with some frequency – the other family members actually buy into this image production. They bow down to the RASN and actually begin to embrace the RASN’s goal of the image. Why? Because there are benefits to be gleaned from doing so, and to be lost if the image is rejected. Monetary benefits. Reception of praise from those who believe the image. “Look at OUR family” is akin to “look at me.” It’s like choosing to live with a celebrity because the celeb status rubs off onto those in close association.

Now, when this dynamic kicks in – and it can be in a family or even in a local church – anyone who exposes the false image, who refuses to bow down to it, will – count on it – be despised, defamed, punished and rejected. That was your experience, right? When you ceased participating in the image building of the abuser? Whistleblowers must be punished.

Entire families, entire churches, can become narcissistic kingdoms wherein all members buy into the image for self-serving benefit. This is why it is so common to see the primary RASN exposed – caught and busted in some wickedness – and yet excused and covered for by the members. I had one wife of a RASN tell me once, “he is a GOOD husband!” when she suspected I doubted that.

It is anything but pleasant to cross paths with such narcissist entities, be it a family or a local church or a business or other entity. Play along, contribute to the image, or else. Such structures have very much in common with the groups that cult leaders construct. Praise, acceptance, material benefit all await those who bow down to the image. Shame, rejection, and withholding are the certain fate of those who refuse.

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Nebuchadnezzar’s Image is still with us.

7 Comments

  1. Z

    Pastor, this is the story of my life! It’s like you were a fly on the wall all my days. Every single thing you’ve said goes on in the family of an initial primary narcissist (explosive violent abuser father, then both parents as abusers) and the family unit of mini-me narcissist codependent allies, as well as the entire abuse-embracing clan/cult of extended family and lifelong friends and church people…is 100% accurate. My ex-parents are at the very end of their lifespans. They know they are going to be judged by the Lord soon. Yet they still work endlessly to shine up their fake manufactured image and the family’s false reputation at all times. And they still work to punish me in any way possible. Even while I have been in No Contact for 6 years. The smear campaign never ends. And it is carried out my my ex-siblings and their spouses. Why? Rewards. And there have been many-monetary and praise and inclusion…But the will of my ex-parents is the their ultimate goal. That bigger share since I no longer exist because I exposed their evil. No share of a will is worth associating with the constant wickedness it took me decades to understand and separate from permanently. It’s taken a toll on my health and well-being. But I’m free now and able to recover from all those years with the constant help of Jesus. Thank you for your keen understanding and spot-on explanation of this family dynamic.

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    • Keep moving on…..

      It is a cult in every meaning of the word, particularly the RASN church and definitely the RASN-led family. The toll that it takes on your health is silent – if not then, it shows up later. I don’t know if you could put a price on being free from their grip, but in cases of the family cult – if being cut out of their will gets you your freedom papers – then it’s like paying our own ransom. Funny thing, when they waive that around and you could care less, their leverage is lost…. when you stop contributing to their image, stop playing the RASN game… they go on with their smear campaigns, guilt trips, twisting the story, rewriting history, etc. And with complete assurance, Christ would tell us to keep moving on….. and so would we…..

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      • Z

        Dear Keep moving on:
        Thank you for your validating words. I love how you put it. “Paying my own ransom” by walking willingly away from their supposed leverage of their will! So true. I was born into that bondage. I was brainwashed by church people and fake Christian abuse-enabling relatives that this was “family” no matter what damage they were doing to me. No matter how many of them knew the “reputable saints”image was a total facade. That the lies and the act were acceptable to all of them so they should be acceptable to me.
        But obviously I was the ONLY one in that very large cult (of ex-family, ex-relatives, ex-friends, ex-church friends and leaders) who did not follow the fake “reputable family image” script. And I paid a high price all my life (and still) as the scapegoat and target of both parents’ abuses as well as ex-siblings’ hatred and abuses. And the betrayals and abandonment of pretty much everyone I ever knew.
        How sadly fragile they all are to get so ravenously hateful when I became a more public truthteller as an adult. They have to live in arm in arm together endlessly promoting their lies about themselves. And about me. An “outsider” like me who pokes holes in their false image with evidence must not just be refuted. I must be destroyed.
        It still boggles my mind that parents who birthed a child, abused that child (and the others) and then just took and took from me all the many kindnesses, the tolerance and forgiveness I gave such undeserving creatures most of my life and are still arrogantly at it in their late 80s and 90s! Facing their Maker very soon. And Judgment Day. I pray for God to be my vindicator and my just and righteous Judge. Repaying their disgusting actions and hearts of darkness as they deserve.
        I now have my freedom. Their will, just like their fake “family legacy”, means nothing to me.
        My eternal inheritance is assured. That’s the only one that matters.

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  2. Keep moving on…….

    Z, please know you are not alone – many in Pastor Crippen’s site know all too well the challenges in dealing with the birth family’s web of deceit, and the same web within many a “church” – even when you try so very hard to stay firmly footed on the high road and away from these deceivers. The atrocities that your birth family, and their shallow followers did and do are theirs and theirs alone. It’s not right what they do to cause you harm, it never will be – – – and you nailed it, as for you, your inheritance was secured – Jesus secured it, with him and that is what truly matters!! You are – we are – his!!!

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  3. Lynn

    This article is a great reminder of why it’s not always enough to get away from the RASN. You have to get away from the enabling family members who tolerate the bad behavior because they get some sort of benefit or reward for allying themselves with the RASN. It’s why, when I went no contact with my family, it was with my extended family as well as my immediate family. Their relationships were like a deep spider’s web of narcissism and manipulation that I knew had to be completely severed. I couldn’t just do one or two strands of the web, but the whole thing.

    I will admit that it was a bit painful in the beginning to let go of some of the tangential relationships that I had been using as a crutch, but I realized the majority of my relationships with my extended family was built on the dysfunction of my relationships with my parents. I couldn’t heal with people who weren’t in the right place mentally and spiritually to help me untangle myself from the mess my family had left me with. So it became a journey of me and God, heading out into the wilderness to rediscover who I was in Christ, who I was as a person, and start to heal from all of the lies that I grew up believing.

    5 years later, I can look back and say that God has been so very good to me. I’ve had my eyes opened to the truth of who he is, who I am, and will continue to press on in the healing that will take the remainder of my life. There are challenges I still face, but I am so much more at peace and confident in the knowledge that I am loved by God. It doesn’t mean everything is perfect, but I can truly say I am more free now than I could have imagined. I can’t wait until the full, permanent healing takes place, and I am grateful for the journey and the people who have helped me – like everyone at CRC and this blog – to know I’m not alone. I’m not crazy. The journey to freedom is worth it. So go be free. For whom the son sets free is free indeed.

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    • Z

      Lynn,
      You’re so right that there could be no healing for you or for me if the enabling, sick interconnectedness of the whole web of the clan/cult of abusers and their enablers was not also cut off completely. First so the primary abusers of my family of birth couldn’t use relatives as “spies” to collect data on me and my husband to further damage us. Same for you I’m sure.
      But the healing you and I have ahead of us for life can only be done in the absence of poisonous toxic relationships AND those who embrace/accept them. Those people are toxic and unhealthy too.
      I was somewhat enmeshed with many relatives I now realize I should not have been. They constantly tried to normalize the abuses by my family of origin to me. (Like you said-for their own gain-but also so they wouldn’t have to stand up for righteousness and justice as God commands as the falsely professing “Christians” they are.) So covering it all up and gaslighting me was what they all had in common.
      When I went No Contact with my family of origin, I found out then, when they ALL ran to the sides of my violent criminal abusers that they had to be cut off too.
      It’s no doubt an abnormal experience few have had to face. But it’s is a spiritual, physical and mental health necessity.
      I’m so glad that you sound like you are in a good place in that healing. May our good God continue to bless you as He already has.

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